Voyage Crew Mike Clubbe's words and pictures of the Vanuatu to
New Caledonia 2003 voyage:
"Once Id found
my correct accommodation in Port Vila I decided I really liked
the place. It had that really laid back feel that Id experienced
in the South Pacific last year. On Saturday I took a little time
to explore the town and on Sunday did a couple of dives on some
wrecks in the harbour but they werent very eventful.
Then on Monday morning
it was time to board the ship. Monday in Vanuatu was a public
holiday for constitution day and as I walked through the town,
the president appeared to be addressing the nation.
The President addresses the Nation
Then I met up with everyone
else from the voyage and we set about loading us and our luggage
onto the boat. It was quite a mixed bunch of people, mainly from
the UK but a couple from Ireland, a couple from Holland and a
couple from the USA everyone seemed very friendly though.
The first day we just
headed out to an island about five miles from Port Vila and set
anchor for the night two of the crew were quite ill so
we couldnt sail too far as we were still waiting to find
out what was wrong with them. It turned out to be a mild form
of Malaria which some drugs rapidly put right over the next few
days. In the meantime we snorkelled in the bay with some very
pretty tropical fish and generally lazed around on deck getting
used to the boat and the idea of living on water. However, none
of this really prepared us for what was to come the next day when
we finally set sail from Port Vila. We were heading for another
of the islands of Vanuatu, Tanna which lies to the South of the
chain of islands. Unfortunately we didnt have the wind behind
us so this part of the journey was to be done mostly with the
ships engine into the waves with a couple of the sails up
to steady the boat against the swell. The entire crew (including
those of us on holiday, the voyage crew) were divided into 3 groups
to cover the different watches. On group covered 12 till 4, another
4 till 8 and the third 8 till 12. I was on 12 till 4 which meant
midday till 4 pm and then midnight till 4am. The journey from
Port Vila to Vanuatu was to take us about 48 hours so there was
always a watch on duty throughout. This meant taking
turns at helping to raise the sails or to pull them one way or
another or steering the boat or various other duties to help with
the smooth running of the boat. I even made the bread one night
for the next day.
And they let me in charge of this thing???
Sorting out the sails
As we set off in the sunshine
everything seemed fine then as we hit the open sea heading into
the swell most of the voyage crew started drifting towards the
back of the boat. In fact, after a few hours, most of the voyage
crew seemed to be hanging over the back of the boat throwing up
and everyone began to question whether this was really a holiday!
The journey was rough even though the seas didnt seem that
rough and I think everyone struggled to find their sea legs. By
the end of the second day though nearly everyone was feeling much
better and things seemed to be going much better. As we pulled
into Port Resolution on Tanna island there was a humpback whale
breaching out of the water and putting on an impressive display
for us. We anchored and headed shorewards where everyone was glad
to have their feet on solid ground again!
Crashing into the waves
At anchor in Port Resolution, Tanna, Vanuatu
Local village, Port Resolution, Tanna island, Vanuatu
Walking down to the beach, Tanna Island, Vanuatu
That evening and again
the next day we took a look around the local village, sat around
on the local beach and then in the afternoon we took a trip up
to the islands active volcano, Mount Yasur via a traditional
Vanuatu village. In the village, the local tribe did some traditional
dances for us it was pretty cool to watch but Im
sure the girls enjoyed it much as the guys in the tribe didnt
exactly wear very much!
Kastom Dancing, Tanna, Vanuatu
After the dancing we got
back into the 4 wheel drives and continued up the volcano. Ive
been up several active volcanoes in the past but nothing quite
prepared me for this one! When they say active they really mean
it when we where there, there were 3 vents in the crater
that were busy throwing lava around. It was like an enormous firework
display and just as you were getting settled, suddenly there would
be an enormous bang and a big shower of lava.
Fireworks on Mt Yasur
The next morning we were
getting ready to set sail for New Caledonia while the locals were
busy fishing in the bay in their outrigger canoes. One came up
to our boat and offered us some fish so the cook traded
30 fish for a big bag of flour and some cans of butter and we
had fresh fish for dinner.
Looks like we're having fish for dinner!
Then we set sail and finally
we really did set sail. The wind was behind us and so after going
through the complicated procedure of pulling various ropes, all
the sails were up and the motor was turned off as we headed south.
The ship moved so much more gracefully with the sails and the
wind behind us compared heading into the swell with the engine.
Now everyone had found their sea legs it was a really enjoyable
voyage. With a speed averaging around 5 knots it was going to
take us another 2 days to reach New Caledonia. Unfortunately the
wind died on the second day so we had to put the engine on again
thats the problem with having to keep a schedule!
Some dolphins came and played in the bow-wave and everyone relaxed
as the ship glided through the water.
Setting the sails - teamwork is everything!
Finally under sail
Once we were in New Caledonia
we had to go to Noumea to clear customs and immigration before
heading out for a few days sailing round the lagoon. We visited
a couple of small islands including the Amedee Lighthouse
a lighthouse built in Paris and shipped out by the French. Then
finally it was time to return to Noumea this morning and time
for us all to disembark and move on either back home or in my
case, back to Vanuatu tomorrow to have a bit more of a look around!"
La Phare Amedee - Amedee Lighthouse!
See more of Mike's pictures - including some amazing shots of Mt Yasur at
Soren Larsen Internet Diary:- http://www.clubbe.co.uk/rtwtrip2/soren.htm
Main website:- http://www.clubbe.co.uk
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